Have you recently received an email asking you to change the password for one of your work accounts? Or one presumably from your boss, asking for some confidential project updates or payment information?
Or maybe an email offering a free solution to a problem you didn’t even have? If the answer to any of these questions is “yes,” you were probably the victim of an attempted cyberattack.
Cybercrimes and the persons who perpetrate them have become quite sophisticated, relying on human error and lack of awareness to manipulate and trick people into giving them what they want, which is usually confidential or personal information they can use to steal from their victims or sabotage them.
These kinds of attacks that rely on human emotions and actions are called social engineering attacks.
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The most common type of social engineering attack is phishing. Attackers pretend to be trustworthy sources and ask their targets for sensitive data, like login credentials, financial information, or confidential work data. These emails usually contain links to make it even easier for potential victims to provide the information scammers want access to.
Attacks designed to trick you into believing that your computer has been infected with malware and offer you a solution for this fabricated problem are called scareware attacks. If you click on the provided “solution link,” the hackers will gain access to your system.
In order to influence and bring about a wanted action, attackers often add “bait” to their scam, such as a link or attachment to download free software or a music video.
These traps can be physical ones as well, For example, would-be hackers could leave a USB drive at your disk and ask you to install something from it in the guise of a coworker.
These types of social engineering attacks are also prevalent on social networking sites, classified sites, and even on web pages, you may have found through search results, meaning, these types of baiting attacks are literally everywhere.
What can you do to protect your business?
Here are some precautions you should take to mitigate the risk of social engineering attacks:
- Instruct your employees to use strong passwords. Passwords containing an unpredictable combination of uppercase, small letters, numbers, and symbols are much harder to hack than simple, short ones. You might also want to invest in a password management system that would make it easier and safer to manage all those complicated passwords.
- Use multifactor authentication. It adds another layer of security to all your online accounts. There are different types of factors, like biometrics or temporary passcodes, so you can pick one that best suits your needs.
- Invest in antivirus protection. Keeping your data safe is essential for your business. Make sure to purchase antivirus software and make sure that your employees can install the software and are keeping it up to date at all times.
- Set email spam filters. No matter what email system you use, they are all equipped with anti-spam filters. Set up yours appropriately so that you are not bothered with spammy phishing emails that can be simply filtered out.
- Purchase cyber liability insurance. Social engineering is one of the three most common computer attacks that trigger a cyber insurance claim. It takes a lot of time and money to recover from any type of cybercrimes, but the right insurance policy can help you with that. An expertly designed cyber liability policy should cover your financial losses in the case of a social engineering attack. This includes possible legal costs and eventual settlements that might need to be paid to third parties, as well as the costs of investigating the attack, notifying affected parties, and more.
Above all, the best way to protect your company from social engineering attacks is by educating your employees properly on social engineer threats. Raising awareness about what social engineering attacks are, what they often look like, and what can be done to prevent them should be of paramount importance.
Make sure that your employees are fully aware of the scope and danger of social engineering attacks and the importance of their own vigilance in protecting themselves and the company.